A Musing on Homelessness and Privilege

Tonight's episode of NCIS has me in angry tears.

I think about homelessness a lot. As a mixed-race overweight lesbian trans woman, I have very little privilege, but what privilege I do have is an accident of birthplace.

My personal privilege is being Canadian. I have access to free healthcare and a government disability pension. And those are literally the ONLY privileges I have in life. And those privileges are mine only because I happened to be lucky enough to be born in a country that has systems in place to help the disabled. And my disabilities are a bonus here, because if I was healthy I'd be homeless, as the welfare system here has a cut-off point. If you're healthy and employable, you find a job within 6 months or you're cut off, end of story. Despite the job market in Canada only being better than the USA in the way a KFC chicken sandwich is less unhealthy than a McDonald's chicken sandwich.

I am painfully aware that there is a very thing barrier between me having a roof over my head and decent healthcare and being on the street or dead. And while it may hurt my American friends and beloveds to read this, the cold hard fact is that if I were American I'd very likely be dead by now for lack of healthcare or housing.
Tonight's NCIS made a point about the statistic that on any given night, more than 60'000 army/navy veterans are sleeping on a street. If that's just military homeless, the number of homeless overall must be staggering. Because of my myriad of health issues and my resulting unemployability, and America's very broken system, I'd be homeless, with my illnesses untreated, if I was still alive at all.

The infuriating part is it doesn't need to be that way. In America OR Canada. Homelessness in BOTH countries could be virtually eliminated if conservative right wing politicians and their wealthy leash-holders, like (in Canada), Stephen Harper and Conrad Black, or, (in the USA), Mitch McConnell and the Koch Brothers, ACTUALLY GAVE A FLYING FUCK ABOUT ANYONE BUT THEMSELVES, and put their money and power towards eradicating sickness and homelessness, it could so very easily be done. If they cared more about human lives than oil profits and tax havens, about bloated military spending, they could easily make sure every American had a real decent quality of life.

My privilege is that I'm sick enough for my government to grudgingly pay my rent even though it doesn't give me near enough to eat. And it's a tenuous privilege at best. I have been homeless and could be again, and as I can barely function as it is, if I end up on the street, I'm as good as dead. If I lived a few miles south, I already would be.

All because a bunch of rich powerful white men care only about themselves.

And it just makes me so goddamned angry.

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